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RX Bar Review

8 Dec

I have another great Paleo, grain free, refined sugar free snack options to share with you!

If you haven’t already heard of RxBars, you should go to their site to check them out. It is a grain free, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, everything artificial- free protein/meal replacement bar.

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“RxBars are handmade with a passion devoted to ensuring the highest standards of quality.  There are no misleading filler ingredients in our bars — only natural, quality ingredients that provide functional nutrition and satisfy hunger.

Each bar contains no more than 8 ingredients, all of which conform to the standards of the Paleo Diet”

They are all made of REAL, natural ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about artificial sugars and whey protein like most protein bars. Like I’ve said I used to eat protein bars, shakes and all sorts of snacks but not after I took a glance at the ingredients list. I also used to eat a lot of protein shakes with whey protein but in all reality I’d really rather just eat real food.

These bars are great when you need something whole and natural but are in a pinch, as I was when I was out shopping the other day……satisfied my hunger without a trip to the mall food court! Excellent. They taste AMAZING!! They send me four kinds: chocolate coconut, coffee cacao, apple cinnamon and blueberry. I thought I would love the coffee one, but it wasn’t my favorite. The chocolate coconut one hit it out of the park. I’m loving coconut anything lately. The apple cinnamon was a close second. I just the taste of figs, which these bars use as figs AND dates (which are in Lara bars). Not that Larabars aren’t awesome, cause they are. But the taste of figs make these bars stand out from the crowd. It was great for when I was in a pinch and needed something yummy without running to the drive through!

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And that’s exactly what I would use these bars for. When I need something quality in an emergency. Unfortunately, I experienced quite a sugar crash about 30-40 minutes after eating the thing. Even though the figs and dates are natural sugars, sugar is sugar. And it affects my body negatively, as I have found out. It didn’t help that I ate the Rx Bar on THE day after my 21 Day Sugar Detox was over. So that may have had something to do with it.

All in all, I would buy these bars again because I like that they have quality ingredients, and I need things for when I’m traveling and want to stay eating clean. However, I probably wouldn’t eat them on a regular basis because of the high amount of sugar and the caloric content (about 250-300 calories per bar). They taste amazing though, I highly suggest you try them if you’re looking for a whole food option for on the go!

OH! I almost forgot- another great thing about these bars is they have this cool little re-sealable packaging! So even though they contain a lot of calories, you can eat half and put the rest back. How many times have you opened a Larabar and said “I’ll only eat half”. Yeaaaa right! These great little packages make it so easy! I actually used it the other day and ate half of one after my workout for two days in a row.

What are you favorite snacks for when you’re traveling?

Do you eat protein bars?

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Buttery Parsnip and Sweet Potato Mash

4 Dec

It was an amazing day when I discovered that I could essentially turn any root vegetable into a “mash”. All these years mashed potatoes have stolen the show…but if you think about it….sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets. The possibilities are endless. Over the summer I made mashed beets with coconut butter. I don’t think I blogged about it, but it was good. It was the only way I could get my husband to eat beets.

I spent a considerable amount of time deciding whether to use lard or ghee in this mash. I decided the ghee would give it a nice buttery taste, reminiscent of mashed potatoes. OMGHEE!!!  Get it? So good. The leftovers are sitting in my fridge now taunting me!!! Replace your traditional mashed potatoes with this dish and you will never go back. Mashed potatoes are boring. Ick.

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Parsnip and Sweet Potato Mash

3 medium parsnips, peeled and diced

1/2 cup cooked sweet potato (about half of one large?? mine were Thanksgiving leftovers so I don’t know how many I started with!)

1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 small clove of garlic

1 tablespoon full fat canned coconut milk

1/2 tablespoon ghee

salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare (peel and dice) sweet potatoes and parsnips and rosemary.

2. Fill a pot with your parsnips and water and put on the stove to boil. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender (roughly 10 minutes). If you start with an uncooked sweet potato, I like this method to cook it.

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3. Place everything in a food processor and blend it up. You may have to push down the sides to get everything mixed up a couple of times.

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^^New can of coconut milk I now order of Vitacost. It’s BPA free and way cheaper than the $3 cans at the store.

Sooooo good! Can’t wait to eat those leftovers! This is a must make.

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Dinner last night….beef roast, broccoli and mash! Omg.

What veggies do you like with your dinner?

Have you ever tried a different type of “mashed” vegetable?

Review: Gourmet Grassfed

21 Nov

I better throw up this review before we leave for the holidays and I totally forget about it. I am so excited to share this product- it truly is quality. I would DEFINITELY buy these and plan on it in the future. I like beef jerky because it’s great for a protein fix to satisfy hunger. But protein shakes and most bars have ridiculous amounts of sugar or questionable ingredients in them.

Gourmet Grassfed is a company that makes organic, grass fed beef jerky products. This is from their website:

“Our Products are gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, MSG free, and GMO free. Pure Protein, and minimally processed. Paleo approved, and several varieties of dried meat snacks are Whole 30 approved.We believe this results in phenomenal flavor and nutrition. The less we do the better.  But please, experience them for yourselves and tell us what you think.”

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I’ll go out on a limb and say that this was the best beef jerky I have ever eaten- and not just because they sent me tons of delicious samples for free. It has amazing flavor, and it’s a complete bonus that there are no terrible additives that beef jerky normally has. I’ve routinely seen MSG as an ingredient in most beef jerky at grocery stores. No thanks!

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The flavors they sent were: Bold Original, Cherry Chipotle, Smokey Apple BBQ, Northwoods Berry, and Ginger Teriyaki. They also sent me some grass fed beef sticks- which were kind of like summer sausage. Also delicious. I think my favorite jerky was the apple or berry flavor- odd because I don’t generally like sweet flavored jerky.

Their standards for quality are ridiculously tight- only grass fed cows, no antibiotics, rotational grazing…everything I look for in quality meat. This jerky works when you’re looking for a quick and easy protein to feel full- instead of some crap ingredient protein bar or shake.

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I didn’t get pictures of them all because I was gobbling them up too fast. You should definitely check out their products if you’re looking for a great option for beef jerky! 

Do you ever eat beef jerky?

What are your favorite protein snacks?

Will lard make you fat?

18 Nov

Growing up, the word lard was synonymous with everything glutinous! Pure fat. You only ate it if you were disgusting. How times have changed! Now I only use either coconut oil or lard to cook with. Doesn’t that sound glutinous and counter-intuitive to being healthy? Shouldn’t I be using something healthy like olive, canola or seed oil?

Picture of lard advertisement

Here’s why you probably shouldn’t be using anything but stable fats like coconut oil or lard (or even BUTTER) for cooking: oxidation.

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I cringe when I think about the cheap-o vegetable oil in the plastic container I used to buy from Wal-Mart to cook with. AHhhhhhh! You should never buy oils that are in plastic containers. Not to mention trans fats are poisoning our country one french fry at a time. You should never consume them under any circumstances. Thank God the FDA is going to ban them!

See, oils that are not stable (solid at room temp) are sensitive to things like light and heat. These things cause them to oxidize. When you consume them, they cause things like free radicals and inflammation in your body. Inflammation can lead to TONS of chronic diseases in the body. I’m not expert on this, so if you want to know more, look here. Basically since cheap oils are packaged in plastic, so sitting in your cupboard makes them oxidize even more. If you’re going to buy olive oil, make sure it is high quality and in a dark, glass container to protect it from the elements and minimize oxidation.

When you cook with these oils, heat damages them even more! Since in America, we fry everything in vegetable oil or peanut oil, we are day by day contributing to inflammation in our bodies and putting our Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio out of whack….further contributing to the health epidemic.

Which brings me to why you SHOULD be cooking with lard, coconut oil and even BUTTER (if you tolerate dairy…make sure it is high quality).  Lard from pastured pork has actually been known to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol since it contains stearic acid. It also contains the good stuff that everyone keeps pushing olive oil for….oleic acid.

These fats are stable to high temperatures and do not get damaged when baking, roasting or heating up food. Thus, our body recognizes them as real good and doesn’t try to fight back when we eat them. Butter is making a come back!

 

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As far as olive oil, it is a healthy choice, but use it for things like light sautéing or finishing oil. Mark Sisson did a piece defending using olive oil in cooking, and I’ll agree. He says that as long as you have a good quality olive oil (dark glass container and reputable brand), cooking, baking or roasting with it isn’t that bad. I’ll take it. But don’t buy the $5.00 plastic container olive oil from Wal-Mart to cook your french fries in. Anyone who has ever tasted the pure heaven that are sweet potato french fries cooked in lard would NEVER!!!

 

***Most of my sources are cited, but I also referenced this article:

Krasner, Deborah. “All You Need to Know about Good Meat.” Mother Earth News. June/July 2012, I.252. 

 

What oils do you cook with?

What’s your favorite brand of coconut oil?

21 Day Sugar Detox Sweet Potato Waffles

16 Nov

Breakfast for dinner!!! It’s one of my favorites. Perfect for a lazy night where I don’t feel like dirtying a bunch of dishes. Not. I dirty 50 dishes every time I enter the kitchen. I am a never ending dirty dish producer. Even having a dishwasher doesn’t help. It puts a mild dent in the situation.

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As you know, I’ve been following the 21 Day Sugar Detox for the past two weeks. Last time I reported, I felt great. Yesterday, however, I hit a slump. I felt exhausted and had a headache…I never have headaches. I’ve been working out about 4 days a week but I never consider my workouts high intensity so I haven’t been supplementing with sweet potatoes, as the program suggests. When I read the daily email from Balanced Bites, it said to reevaluate your workout plan and if you’re suffering from fatigue to add in sweet potatoes. Bingo! I thought that I wouldn’t need extra carbs from working out, but it turns out I probably do. Plus I did quite a strenuous strength training workout Wednesday….I probably should have paid more attention to it all.

Sweet potato waffles to the rescue!!! They turned out amazing for my BRINNER ….I thought I’d share

Sweet Potato Waffles: 21 Day Sugar Detox Approved!!

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Makes two large waffles

1/2 of a large sweet potato, baked and mashed (around 3/4 cup) I cooked mine in the microwave

2 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon coconut milk

1 tablespoon sun butter or almond butter

1 tablespoon coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)

For the topping:

1 tablespoon coconut milk

1/2 tablespoon sun butter

2 drops of vanilla

dash of cinnamon

crushed pecans

1. Whip your egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks.

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2. After cooking your sweet potato, mash it up and add it to the egg whites with the sunbutter. Mix until incorporated. Don’t over mix or the whites will flop.

3. Add your egg yolks, vanilla and coconut milk and mix until just combined.

4. Fold in dry ingredients.

5. Place half of the mixture in a sprayed/greased waffle iron. Cook until done!

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6. For topping: Mix together everything but the pecans and microwave for 45 seconds. Pour on top of waffle with pecans. If you’re not on the sugar detox top that baby with maple syrup!!

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7 . Eat that deliciousness!!!

Do you love breakfast for dinner?

Favorite waffle/pancake toppings: GO!

Favorite Posts

14 Nov

I guess I should acknowledge that my blog turned a year old the other day! Happy Birthday Pencils and Pancakes! It’s weird that I’ve more or less been documenting my life on the internet for a year. Sometimes I feel self conscious. A lot of people who have never heard of what a blog is or are unfamiliar with it don’t understand why anyone would want to do post their life on the internet, or constantly be taking pictures of food to post….but all I know is I enjoy blogging, reading others’ blogs, and writing. So I’ll keep doing it for now!!! I know…you were worried 😉

Since my blog is a year old I though I’d run down some of my favorite and most popular posts from the last year:

School-

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Sometimes I doubt if I should continue blogging about teaching, since I feel like the blog has morphed into more of a food blog, but teaching posts continue to be what people searching come for. So I’ll be happy to throw up a couple teaching related posts a month.

How to teach counterclaim

Book unit on Micheal Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma

Food-

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Over the past year I have been experimenting with the Paleo diet. I love how it makes me feel! Although I don’t stick to it 100% of the time. Here are some of my favorite recipes from the past year (not all of them are Paleo).

Paleo Cereal

Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry over Coconut Cauliflower Rice

Spinach and Garlic Pizza

Grilled banana and peanut butter stuffed french toast

Spicy Roasted Carrot Fries <<I make these at least once a week

Game Day Treats: Roasted red pepper poppers

Reviews-

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Quest Bar Review

Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant Review

Wedding-

pro 10

Pros and Cons of planning a wedding on Pinterest

Rustic Wedding Crafts

Bachelorette Party

Ceremony and Bridal Party

Miscellaneous Favorite Posts

What to buy organic

How to grocery shop on a budget using coupons

Working out in the morning: pros and cons

How to change your mindset and become happier

 

WOW it’s kind of fun to look at all the posts and reflect over the past year. I haven’t really taken the time to re-read much of my blog. Anyways, for the 2-3 people that might read this blog 2 of which include my husband and mother, thanks for reading! Next goal is trying to get this baby self hosted. It scares me whenever I think about it…any tips?

Do you ever go back and read your own blog posts?

How hard is going to self hosted? BE HONEST!!!

21 Day Sugar Detox Recipes

12 Nov

I thought I’d share some of the awesome food that I’ve been eating this week due to Diane Sanfilippo and her new book 21 Day Sugar Detox. I’ve been sharing some on Instagram and people seem interested in recipes to make during the 21 Day Sugar Detox and what exactly it is.

As I’ve mentioned, Practical Paleo is basically my food bible. So even thought I wasn’t particularly interested in doing a sugar ‘detox’ I pretty much ordered the book for the recipes. And she’s coming out with more recipes and another book in December! I’m like her personal sales-person over here.

When you hear the word “detox”, it conjures up images of green bile-like smoothies and lemon water and cayenne pepper drinks for 7 days. This is not in any way what this is. It’s basically just eating Paleo, except you have to cut out most fruit and sweeteners like honey and maple syrup for 21 days.

I have a SERIOUS sugar addiction, and Paleo/natural or not, eating massive amount of fruits, Paleo baked goods and in my case dried fruit just makes my cravings worse and worse until I am an uncontrollable sweet craving eating machine. I talked about how since my wedding I’m experiencing a lack of motivation when it comes to healthy eating. It pretty much just carried over into the fall and I’ve found it hard to stay on track. I know that sweet things are my downfall, and it’s SO hard to stop eating them once I start. The hardest part is the more I eat sweet things the more I crave, so it’s just this big gigantic cycle.

I started the sugar detox on November 4th with a large group of online support. It’s hard to make the first step on cutting out sugar and fruit because …. it’s soooo good and addicting. It’s been 8 days and I feel AMAZING!!! I can’t even describe it. I’m just in such a great mood and feel so good. It’s like this “I CAN DO AALLLLLL THE THINGSSS” kind of feeling. See I just tried to describe it and I failed.

The other day I had this for breakfast and went 6 hours before even being hungry. SIX HOURS!

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It was a hash of carrots, parsnips, sausage and eggs.  Not my usual pancakes but kept me fuller. That’s what’s so hard..I crave sweet things in the morning and it’s so hard to say not to that. But when I do say no I stay fuller longer and feel so much better. It’s quite the conundrum.

Some of the recipes I’ve made include:

Savory Herb Drop Biscuits

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So good.

Pumpkin Carrot Muffins

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Haven’t had one of these yet, but I nibbled off the top of one when it came out of the oven and it was good. And they smell wonderful.

Shrimp Pad Thai

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I subbed spaghetti squash for the zucchini. This was ah-ma-zing! So unique and delicious flavors.

I also made the beef and broccoli stir fry, but didn’t take a picture.

I also made this faux pumpkin banana ice cream last night to satisfy the sweet tooth. I just used a green-tipped banana and did not put any honey in it.

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So overall I feel great but I know that when I go home for Thanksgiving and indulge I am going to start craving sweet things more and more. Once you start you can’t stop! I also might end the 21 day sugar detox a little early since the day I go home is day 20 (?) and we literally haven’t been home since Labor day. I’m not going to not have fun with people I haven’t seen in months because of the detox. I plan to just play it by ear and if I feel like eating something, I will. If the opportunity doesn’t arise I will try to do the 21 days. No big deal. I will return to this way of eating after Thanksgiving. It’s hard to STOP the sweet stuff, but the more you eat the more you crave, so I just have to remember how GREAT I feel right now. This was a great reset for my body right before the holidays! I highly recommend the book.

Have you tried the 21 day Sugar Detox?

How do you feel about going on a “diet”? Does it make you more stressed out than necessary or do you like having rules?

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